Discussing Lou Williams’ Mixtape “Here Goes Nothin'”

Robby Kalland —  August 26, 2013

On Tuesday, Lou Williams dropped his first mixtape “Here Goes Nothin’.” Being that it’s August and we are starved of anything even remotely basketball related to talk about, Cole Patty and I, HawksHoop’s resident amateur hip-hop critics, had a lengthy email conversation about the mixtape. You can listen to the mixtape here. (Also, please spare us the “He should be in the gym” comments. Lou spends an inordinate amount of time in the gym. He’s allowed to have a hobby, especially when he’s good at it. AwesomeThanks)

Robby: Cole, the day we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: LOU WILL’S MIXTAPE DROPPED! We’ve been talking about this for what, a couple months?! After listening to it for the first time, I must say that it was worth the wait. A 16 track mixtape was a lot more than I expected, and I was impressed by the quality of the tape top to bottom. I expected it to have a few solid tracks, but wasn’t sure he could produce a full tape. I gotta say I’m impressed.

Cole: Yea, Lou definitely picked up some of the tricks of the trade from his fellow Philly native Meek Mill. Also an interesting part of the mixtape is how these songs are grouped together. It isn’t just a random collection of songs that sound exactly like the single “Playin,” it is more set up with an album that features both tracks where LouWillville swags out and songs where we see the emotional side of Lou Williams. As funny as it was when Williams drops the “I use to rap about bitches and money and now I rap about… bitches and money” line, it was also cool to listen to him rhyme a tribute to the late Lil Snupe – which Lil Snupe was one of Meek Mill and Williams’ better friends.

Robby: I’m glad you brought up how it felt more like an album than a mixtape. Mixtapes tend to be unorganized and have one singular tone throughout. “Here Goes Nothin” had a lot more depth to its content than I anticipated, and like you said bounced around from bangers to slower, more emotional tracks.

The song that really stuck out to me that showed his depth was track 8, “Break From Myself.” Lou’s opening lyric on that song is “In and out of cities, G4 flying, while my daughter at home, and she keep cryin. Daddy gotta work, daddy on the road, daddy missin birthdays, daddy ain’t never home…” That kind of self-awareness and just the content about the struggle to balance his life was something that I wasn’t expecting, but was very impressed by the way he pulled it off.
Cole: “Break From Myself” is such a standout song off the tape in my opinion. Not only was the song’s lyrical depth and execution strong, but it also is one of the few tracks Lou gets away from the Meek Mill influenced flow. It is well documented that Meek and Lou hangout a lot and for better or for worse – I’m a Meek fan – Meek influences Lou’s rapping style. So as nice as a different voiced Meek clone can be, it was awesome for Lou to branch out his sound. Speaking of which, what do you think about Williams’ voice?
Robby: It’s definitely interesting. I look at it kind of as if Lou has two personas. Lou Williams is the guy that comes out on “Break From Myself” and is the guy that I get to talk to in interviews. He’s relatively soft spoken and you here that Gwinnett County flavor in his voice. LouWill is all swag and his voice has an odd mix of Philly and the South that I find interesting. LouWill shows up on “Playin Wit Dem Racks,” “Problem,” and the other bangers, and is also the on-court persona when he’s playing ball. I’ve written before about the Meek influence on his rapping when “Playin Wit Dem Racks” came out with the way he elongates certain words and his general sound, but after hearing the full tape, it seems that there is more to Lou than, as you said, just being a “Meek-clone.”

While we’re on the topic of Meek, let’s discuss “Problem.” The 4th track on the tape has features from Meek Mill and, friend of the Hawks owners and frequent visitor to Philips Arena, 2Chainz. I loved that track and was impressed with the way Lou held his own on a song with two of the hottest MC’s in the rap business. What were your thoughts on the song and the way Lou stacked up to Meek and Mr. Chainz?
Cole: I think it became very clear that Williams is a basketball player rapping on “Problem,” but it wasn’t like Meek and Mr. Chainz completely bodied the Hawks guard. Williams gets by on just enough talent to make up for the lack of time he has to practice the craft, and it is actually a really interesting situation Lou is in. Other modern day NBA rappers – unless you count Iman Shumpert’s appearance on Michelle Obama’s album, no really – haven’t had a lot of tracks spitting next to the modern day heavyweights. While I had premonitions Shump and Steven Jackson could have performed alongside most names in the business, it was cool to see LouWill hold his own. Milly and 2Chainz weren’t the only larger names in the business either. Williams had some bigger names – most notably Jahil Beats – produce the mixtape. How did you feel about the production?
Robby: Yeah, Jahil Beats was big and also having Jagged Edge and Quez from Travis Porter as features shows that Lou clearly has a lot of connections in the industry, and being in Atlanta now only helps him with a multitude of top level producers, artists, and studios in the city.

I thought the production was excellent. Part of what made it sound more like an album than a mixtape was definitely the production. The beats were all unique, which is not often the case on mixtapes, and they were all well produced and mixed. I also liked that they were heavy on the drums (something I’m partial to) and real drums at that rather than being over-produced synthetic drum beats.
It’s interesting that you mentioned he was clearly a basketball player rapping on “Problem,” and I agree with you on that point for that particular song. Lou’s clearly confident in his skills to jump on a song with those two, because he easily could’ve gotten totally out-rapped by either one of them. However, I felt like for the most part Lou did well to show that he is a legitimate rapper. He rarely touched on basketball in his lyrics, which is something that Shump does frequently, and, for the most part, his flow and lyricism was solid. Is that a fair assessment?
Cole: Definitely fair, the “basketball player who happens to be rapping” may seem like a slight but at the same time if I didn’t know who made that tape I would have thought it was an up and coming rapper. Lou isn’t Kendrick Lamar, but he also was way better than Tony Parker’s French rap album.
Robby: Absolutely. I’m not trying to say Lou should retire and pursue rap as his full-time career. He’s definitely in the upper echelon of basketball rappers though. You asked me about the production and then I side-tracked the conversation, so what were your thoughts on the production?
Cole: It’s great quality for a mixtape. There isn’t Yeezus or Magna Carta Holy Grail amounts of time put into it, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s simple and fun to listen to, which is usually want you want when it comes to mixtape beats. Where would you put Lou’s projects in terms of modern day NBA player rap projects.
Robby: I’d put this near the top of the list. He’s definitely around that Stack Jack level and I preferred it to Shump’s tape from last year.
Cole: Yep. At worst he’s third, and something that he showed that I don’t think Shumpert did was the diversity to do a multitude of styles. It certainly is in the top group of NBA rap projects lately.
Robby: No doubt. I want to go back to “Problem” for a minute and Lou’s opening lyric where he says “Never get rattled from all these bloggers…” Is this the greatest opening line ever?! Also, I’m going to pretend that this is a shout-out to us. Thanks, Lou!
Cole: Yes, one of the best lines on the tape. Actually, a common theme on the tape was twitter haters and bloggers. I thought it was hilarious because I don’t really remember others addressing both parties so consistently on a project. Also, if I looked in your twitter drafts, how many would be at Lou saying “thanks for the shoutout LouWillville?”
Robby: 37. But that’s not important…What is important is that Lou wants you all to know that he cares not for your criticism, and that the hate only motivates him.
Cole: Well, I don’t know if he’s getting much motivation from us, what is your favorite track off the album?
Robby: I’m taking credit for motivating Lou, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY! As for my favorite track…that’s tough. I’m going to go with “Break From Myself.” I really liked some of his others, but that one was the song that stuck out the most to me on the first listen. His flow and the hook paired together really well, and, to me, it was the best example of his lyrical abilities on the tape.
Cole: “Break From Myself” is such a standout track, but in a different direction I like “Love Like This.” It’s a very solid and consistent with the rest of tape, however I think that Lou rapping just stands out. The beat just works really well with the artist and it all comes together like a good sandwich.
Robby: Wow, changing it up on me. I was almost positive you were going to say “Motivating Hate” because I know the Lil Snupe tribute was something you loved.
Cole: The Lil Snupe tribute is easily top 5 on that mixtape – which is more impressive than it sounds because 16 tracks – however I like swagged out LouWillville just a tad more than Lou Williams. “Motivating Hate” is certainly touching, but had to go with something more of my style.
Robby: I feel you. Alright, final thoughts on the mixtape and what grade would you give it?
Cole: B+. It’s good, but please keep being the microwave scoring for Atlanta Lou.
Robby: I agree with that. I give it an A-. It was solid by any measure, but I grade it up due to him being a basketball player/person I have to interact with on a regular basis during the season. I’m just excited that his ACL rehab is going well and we’ll finally see Lou on the court again soon and not just in the booth.

Robby Kalland

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